Last reviewed and updated October 2023
The University recognises the emotional and physical challenges which may arise from undergoing fertility treatments, and supports employees who wish to undertake fertility treatment. The University’s Fertility Treatment Leave framework is intended to assist eligible employees in the logistical and emotional aspects of undergoing treatment.
Eligibility and entitlement
Investigations regarding infertility, consultations exploring treatment options, and medical interventions aimed at assisting conception, should be regarded as medical appointments and entitlement to time off to attend appointments, and/or to physically recover from or deal with side-effects of treatment is covered by the University’s usual absence procedures.
In addition, any employee who is undergoing fertility treatment (regardless of gender) is entitled to up to 2 working days’ of paid leave in any 12 month period. This might be used, for example, to allow the individual some time to deal with the logistical or emotional effects of fertility investigations or interventions.
Whilst all forms of fertility treatment are covered by this policy, there are some specific legal provisions related to In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF). In the case of IVF, a person is deemed legally to be pregnant once a fertilised egg has been implanted in their uterus. From that time, they are legally protected from unfavourable treatment related to their pregnancy for the duration of their pregnancy, and are entitled to time off for antenatal care and pregnancy-related sickness, as per the University’s family leave guidance.
In the unfortunate event that the IVF cycle is not successful they remain legally protected for a further 2 weeks.
Eligible employees are encouraged to discuss their situation with their line manager or with an HR contact in their department. Managers should treat such information with sensitivity and confidentiality. In common with other leave options, staff should request leave in advance where possible. The University recognises that employees may require unforeseen time off before or after fertility treatment. Whilst the normal arrangements concerning absence notification will apply, employees may request retrospectively that up to 2 days of their absence is treated as fertility treatment leave upon their return to work. Leave for fertility treatment is designed to be flexible, and managers are advised to discuss the leave options available with the employee, and to grant leave at their discretion and with sensitivity. Managers should bear in mind the usual Health and Safety procedures associated with employees who are or who may be pregnant and should follow the University’s guidance on this.
How different types of leave could be used
Employees may wish to combine the 2 days’ fertility treatment leave with other types of leave to suit their needs. This may include annual leave, unpaid leave, time off for medical appointments and sickness leave. Below are examples of how an employee might structure their leave for the purposes of undergoing fertility treatment.
Type of leave - Medical Appointment
Reason this type of leave might be used: Investigating reasons for infertility; initial exploratory consultations regarding treatment options; medical interventions and any fertility-related treatment options. They may also wish to speak to their manager if they feel that flexible working, or working from home on particular days during the treatment might be helpful
Type of leave - Fertility treatment leave
Reason this type of leave might be used: Monitoring; taking additional time to rest and recover before or after a procedure; taking time away from the workplace to deal with emotional impact of treatment, or unsuccessful outcomes.
Type of leave - Sickness leave
Reason this type of leave might be used: Physically recovering from the effects of a procedure; illness arising from fertility treatment; illness arising from pregnancy.
Type of leave - Annual leave
Reason this type of leave might be used: Need for leave associated with fertility treatment once the annual 2 day entitlement has been exhausted.
Leave for partners
The entitlement to 2 days of paid fertility leave in any 12 month period is also available to ‘partners’ (ie anyone, of any gender, who will co-parent with the mother/person who may become pregnant).
If they are undergoing medical investigations or treatments themselves the standard rules about absence for medical treatments, or sickness, apply.
This time off is also available to staff going through a surrogacy arrangement.
Sources of support
Employees undergoing fertility treatment can also access the University’s Employee Assistance Programme, Health Assured, which provides free access to a 24 hour, independent counselling and advice service.
Employees can register for free with the Work+Family Space to access support on family related issues and one you’ve registered you can arrange telephone consultations with a range of experts who can help you with Work+Family challenges.
External links and services
The Fertility Network is the UK’s largest charity for people experiencing fertility problems, and can be contacted for free advice and information about fertility issues: https://fertilitynetworkuk.org/
Fertility Matters at Work
A free downloadable guide with hints and tips to support both employees going through fertility treatment at work and key questions for managers to consider:
Sign up - Free Resource Library - Fertility Matters at Work